My entry into the traditional workforce was just that, pretty traditional.
A new college graduate, I assumed the world to be my oyster. That is, until I began submitting resumes. The first job I landed felt a bit more like sand inside the oyster’s shell: small, gritty, and mundane. It was a major reality check.
Months into that first job, however, the department where I worked downsized, giving me the perfect opportunity to find a new position. Not long after, I was hired on at a nationally prominent online marketing firm. My employer took a chance hiring a fresh graduate, and I wanted to give them no reasons to regret their decision.
The company I work for is unique in that we exclusively provide web marketing services to law firms. It may sound odd, but the niche is actually thriving! Marketing law practices is a bit of a creative challenge, but the work has sharpened my mind and taught me diligence. What I love most about my job is working alongside top-notch colleagues. Our culture is one that builds teammates up and, so, the entire company flourishes. I can honestly say I leave the office each day feeling a bit more accomplished than when I left.
Several months into my shiny, new career I got married. And several months after that, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant.
Reality check #2.
I worked until the day I had my daughter, literally! I reported for work on Tuesday and delivered my daughter on Wednesday. (Talk about cutting it close!) Following a 9-week maternity leave, I returned to work full time.
One of the first challenges work-outside-the-home moms face is childcare. Through a few Facebook status updates, my husband and I found a wonderful in-home babysitter for our daughter, a local mom with a background in childhood education, whose fees were comparable to surrounding daycares. For those seeking alternatives to more institutional forms of childcare, I highly suggest reaching out to your network for recommendations. We couldn’t be happier with our arrangement.
Though pickups, dropoffs, and leaving work early for the off-sick day require some juggling, keeping the commitment to breastfeed my daughter has been the most challenging. Since my body apparently thinks I gave birth to a village of ravenous babies, I must adhere to a rigorous pumping schedule! The work I do is time-sensitive and fairly demanding. It can be frustrating to interrupt my workflow to pump. Thanks to my iPhone, I usually catch up on emails or do some industry reading during the downtime. At my office, I lock myself away in a back bathroom. I can easily set my breast pump on the sink, next to an outlet, and not worry about unexpected interruptions.
Several months after reentering the workforce, I decided that a full-time schedule didn’t jive with my personal goals a mother. Anne’s helpful book, How She Does It, was truly a guiding light as I navigated post-baby career moves. Standing on the solid reputation I had built at the company over my two-year tenure, I approached my employer and asked if I could take up a part-time schedule. The company was happy I wanted to maintain ties, and I was happy I could spend more time with my daughter while continuing an income stream for my family. My job still bears the hallmarks of traditional, corporate America, but with the flexibility that I wanted.
At the time of writing, my daughter is 9 months old and we are thriving on this part-time arrangement. I could see myself returning to full-time work once my daughter and any future siblings are school-aged, but for the moment our family is comfortable taking my career one step at a time. It is such a gift to continue sharpening my job skills, but invest the bulk of my time parenting through the little years. I am deeply grateful for an employer who is willing to change with me, even as my daughter changes.
Yes—my work life has moved away from tradition, but that works for me.